Gender equality part of the solution to challenges in society
“The world’s first feminist government is now implementing a policy to increase gender equality”, the Prime Minister established in the Statement of Government Policy.
Sweden has a feminist government. We place gender equality at the heart of both national and international work. Economic policy will be used to increase economic equality and help increase gender equality in society. The overall objective of the Government’s gender equality policy is equal power for women and men to shape society and their own lives. This is ultimately a question of democracy and social justice. At the same time, gender equality is part of the solution to creating jobs and growth. It contributes to economic development by making use of both women’s and men’s potential.
Gender equality policy aims to provide girls and boys, women and men with conditions to develop without being held back by structures, prejudices or stereotypical conceptions. Here it is important to note that also other identities, factors and power structures affect living conditions and circumstances for different groups of women and men.
Gender equality perspective from the start
A feminist government carries out a gender equality analysis early in the decision-making process, before the decisions are taken, to ensure that the gender equality perspective is present from the outset as a natural part of the solution to the problem. This strategy – gender mainstreaming – contributes not only to gender equality, but also to more effective measures.
One of many examples of inequality in Sweden is that women often take greater responsibility for care of relatives and children. Many women reduce their working hours to do so. According to Statistics Sweden’s labour force survey, 170 000 people work part time to take care of children and/or an adult relative. The majority of these, 88 per cent, are women, who pay a high price for their efforts in the form of lower incomes and future pensions. To promote a more even distribution of unpaid household and care work, the Government has submitted a proposal to the Riksdag to introduce a third reserved month of parental insurance for each parent. Currently, two months of the parental insurance are earmarked for each parent, and cannot be transferred to the other parent. The Government wants to see a more gender-equal division of parental benefits days, and a third earmarked month will be introduced to promote gender-equal parenting. Gender-equal parenting is important in terms of a child’s right to both parents, but it also contributes to increased gender equality in the labour market.
The Government has also announced funding for increased staffing levels in elderly care and targeted resources to stimulate access to childcare during unsocial working hours.
Internal work at the Government Offices increases pressure for gender equality perspective
In autumn 2015, the Government has started comprehensive development work to ensure that the gender equality perspective will have a broad impact in shaping policy. The Minister for Gender Equality has convened a special ministerial group to develop gender equality policy and all ministers and state secretaries have taken part in gender equality training. This work is reflected in the Budget Bill, where the Government, as a first step and on the basis of the gender equality policy objectives, is now presenting concrete objectives for gender equality in a number of key policy areas and measurement criteria to follow up the work.
So far, it has been mainly women pursuing gender equality efforts. In recent years, however, there has been a growing awareness, both globally and in Sweden, of the role of men and boys in gender equality work. Participation by men and boys is an important part of the Government’s strategic gender equality efforts, for instance through our commitment to the UN campaign HeForShe.
Gender equality is not just a question of social justice; it also helps establish growth and development.
Fact box: A feminist government
Sweden’s government is feminist and puts equality between women and men at the heart of national and international work.
A feminist policy means that gender equality is crucial for Government priorities – in choosing direction and allocating resources. A feminist government ensures that decisions contribute to gender equality, and that gender equality permeates all government policy. Gender equality is not merely a policy area, but rather a mindset that should influence all policy.
The Government’s most important tool for implementing a feminist policy is gender mainstreaming, of which gender-responsive budgeting is an important element.